Nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to treat a herniated or bulging disc. This procedure uses a needle that emits radio waves to shrink a disc bulge by dissolving excess tissue. Nucleoplasty relieves the pressure inside the disc and on the nerves responsible for causing pain.
What to Expect
- We will contact you prior to your appointment to review current medications, your medical history, and potential risks. We will also answer any questions you have about the procedure.
- Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
- Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.
- On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.
- The use of sedation during your procedure is at the radiologist’s discretion. If sedation is prescribed, we will provide detailed instructions so you know what to expect.
- If you’ll be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you after your procedure due to the effects of the medications.
- Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.
- When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
- If you have sedation, you will have an IV needle placed in your arm so you can receive the medication. You will be closely monitored by our staff.
- You will be awake during the procedure so you can provide important feedback to the radiologist, but the sedative will help diminish anxiety and any discomfort.
- You will lie on your stomach on a padded exam table.
- Using X-ray guidance, the radiologist will insert a thin needle and inject contrast solution. The contrast solution is designed to highlight your anatomy to help ensure precise targeting of the disc thought to be causing your pain.
- The radiologist will then place a hollow needle into the center of your bulging disc. You may experience mild discomfort during this part of the procedure.
- A small, specialized wand will be inserted through the needle, where it is heated to dissolve tissue and create a series of channels within the disc.
- By reducing the amount of excess tissue within the disc, this treatment may reduce the size of the bulge, and also relieve pressure inside the disc as well as the pressure on nerves being affected.
- The wand will then be slowly withdrawn to its original position while thermally sealing the new channel.
- Throughout the procedure, a radiologist and nurse will closely monitor your condition and comfort level.
- The number of channels that are created depends on the disc size. At the end of the procedure, the wand and needle will be removed.
- A small bandage will be placed over the needle insertion site
- You may be asked to wait at the clinic for several hours for evaluation and observation.
- When your procedure is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
- Due to the sedation, a nurse will review some guidelines that you will be asked to follow post-procedure, such as driving, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc.
- Adult supervision is necessary for the remainder of the day due to the effects of sedation.
- We will provide you with general activity and rehabilitation guidelines. Ask your referring provider about long-term activities, such as returning to work and rehabilitation.
- You may experience increased symptoms for 7 to 10 days until the disc begins to heal. Prescription medications may be given to relieve these symptoms.